COMMENTARY: Lessons From a Carrot, Egg, and Coffee Bean

Let’s face it. Painful personal trauma and tragedy – like illness or injury, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or an unexpected breakup of a relationship – are unavoidable. The question is: Will these private calamities erode our capacity to be happy or cause us to become stronger and better able to live a meaningful and fulfilling life?

Consider how differently carrots, eggs, and ground coffee beans are affected by the extreme adversity of being boiled. Like a carrot, adversity can soften us. We can emerge more flexible, understanding, compassionate, and grateful, or we can let our life spirit turn into a soft mush.

Like an egg, boiling water can make us harder, stronger, tougher, and wiser, or we can become more cynical, pessimistic, callous, and inaccessible.

And like a coffee bean, we can willingly transform our lives into something better or lose ourselves completely.

We can’t control what happens to us, but we have a lot to say about how we react and, therefore, what happens in us. The first step to turning adversity into advantage is to get out of the hot water as quickly as possible. Don’t dwell on catastrophe. Grieve, but move on. Don’t define your life by misfortune.

Second, force yourself to move forward. Draw on your inner strengths, the people who love you, and your faith to transform your life into something better. Formulate a vision of a more purposeful life filled with people and experiences that will help you become more fulfilled.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts. 

Comments 2

  1. I have always loved this story. When my marriage broke apart after 37 years I was fairly devastated. I was one of the first women to work through pregnancy and worked the entire time my children were growing up. My husband worked but went to school and worked extra jobs to do hunting trips and fishing trips. We took only camping trips as a family once or twice a year. The children left and graduated from college and started their own families. I kept working and eventually bought myself two horses, a dream I had since I was a child. My husband hated that I had something that I loved that he knew nothing about and had no way of controlling me. Three years later he filed for divorce. At the time it seemed devastating, but I described it the other day as the nicest thing he had ever done for me except father my three children.

    My life now is very rewarding. I bought a big property, 4.3 acres, with a small manufactured home in the high desert between Victorville and Wrightwood. I have the two horses I bought and three other rescues and care for a friends horse and she pays her share of the feed bill. I still work as a real estate broker part time, just enough to supplement my SS and pension funds for some fun money and improvement to the property. It is quiet and peaceful, beautiful stars at night, incredible sunrises and sunsets, Occasional snow in the winter. More work to do outside than inside. My life is full to overflowing. My children are doing well, raising their families. I thank God every morning and every night that I survived to be able to enjoy his peace and calm, no harassment, I do my best to keep all in order, but when it rains we wait till the dogs are done tracking paw prints in and then clean the house and mop the floors. The roosters wake me much more pleasantly than an alarm clock or music ever could. The horses are always glad to see me, I no longer ride but enjoy their company, working with them on the ground, they make great retirement companions. My fruit trees will go in next year now that the solar system is in and I know where to plant them so as not to shade the panels. Life is good and getting better, the best is yet to come.

    1. Post

      Thank you for this very lovely comment and congratulations on taking such a positive control of your life. You are an example for all of us.

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